The agent for Mitchell Miller has spoken, defending the representation of his client, and his signing with the NHL’s Boston Bruins.
Eustace King, who is the managing partner and co-founder of O2K Sports Management, released a statement on social media Sunday related to his client. Similar to the signing itself, King’s statement was met with questions and criticism.
“The decision to take on Mitchell Miller as a client was not one that O2K Sports Management made lightly,” King wrote. “As one of the very few Black NHL agents in the league, a member of the NHL’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, and as a Black man who has spent his entire life in hockey, I understand the gravity of the situation and respect the fierce emotions and reactions to the initial reporting and commentary around Mr. Miller’s past behaviour.”
The Bruins announced on Sunday that they are parting ways with Miller, two days after signing him, with team president Cam Neely stating, "Based on new information, we believe it is the best decision at this time to rescind the opportunity for Mitchell Miller to represent the Boston Bruins."
In the statement, King pointed to Miller’s volunteer participation with numerous groups, as well as the fact Miller “committed to working with” a trio of organizations that aim to increase diversity and inclusion in hockey.
One of those organizations, Hockey Equality, was founded by former NHL player Anthony Stewart, who works for O2K focusing on “player development and mentorship for O2K athletes.”
The Carnegie Initiative, another organization listed by King that Miller was “committed to working with” made a statement clarifying that they were “approached to consider working with Mitchell, as he addresses his own recovery process related to social justice issues,” but did not state they had agreed to work with Miller.
“To be clear, we have not worked with Mitchell Miller,” the Carnegie Initiative’s statement read.
Other portions of the statement, including the assertion Miller was “volunteering”, have come into question, as 25 hours of community service were court ordered as a portion of his sentencing.
Following 2016 charges, Miller was convicted of bullying a classmate, Isaiah Meyer-Crothers. Miller was charged with assault and violating the Ohio Safe Schools Act for physically assaulting Meyer-Croters, tricking him to eat candy that had been rubbed in a urinal, and calling this classmate, who was also disabled, racist slurs including the "N-word". According to the victim’s family, it was not an isolated incident, but rather "years and years of abuse.”
Others, including Jen O’Brien, the executive director of the American Special Hockey Association, also spoke out questioning King’s statement. In reply to King’s tweeted statement, O’Brien wrote that Miller “did not respond to a single invitation to join Special Hockey in AZ or OH. But our names were good enough for the press release. He made a choice repeatedly knowing there are consequences for actions. Even if there is enlightenment & forgiveness, there are consequences.”
King stated his agency was looking to embrace a “forward-thinking approach…as a path to racial healing and understanding” in Miller’s case. His letter also stated that, “We believe in restorative justice. Mitchell and I are on that path together, and I welcome you all to join us. O2K Sports Management believes in accountability, and so does our client.”
While restorative justice in the United States often looks to “examine the harmful impact of a crime and then determines what can be done to repair that harm while holding the person who caused it accountable for his or her actions,” it also “seeks to include those most directly affected by a crime in the justice process, namely victims and survivors. Rather than a process focused on the offender, restorative justice focuses on those who have been harmed and the harms they have experienced.”
According to the victim’s family, they were not involved in any decisions, nor consulted about Miller’s signing, and they believe he has yet to be rehabilitated, although they hope this occurs.
“I can’t say it enough. We want Mitchell to get the help that he needs,” Joni Meyer-Crothers, the victim’s mother told The Athletic. “Because he needs help, too. So we’re not against that, at all. But it’s a privilege to play hockey. Maybe he should have been rehabilitated, and then re-focused and re-looked at to play hockey after he truly was rehabilitated and understood the magnitude of what he’s done to our son.”
According to the family, Miller did not apologize, despite the court order, until a week ago when the Boston Bruins allegedly told him they would not sign him unless he did so.
“The only time he sought Isaiah out to apologize to him was about a week and a half ago when Boston told him, ‘We’re not signing you unless you apologize.’ So then he decided, ‘Hey, I better get ahold of Isaiah and apologize.’... He told Isaiah specifically that he was sorry, that this was not hockey-related…It was about hockey. It wasn’t about kids. It wasn’t about being sorry. It was about his hockey. So it’s empty,” the victim’s mother said.
Miller did not play in Sunday’s Providence Bruins game. He was assigned by the Boston Bruins to their AHL affiliate before he was let go.
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